A prosperous summer coupled with a bright start to the season – look out Premier League, Everton mean business this year. Having become accustomed to their plans being consistently disrupted by a late transfer market sale, the Toffees have managed to hold on to the likes of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini, while strengthening key areas.
Jack Rodwell may have departed to subsidise their spending, but despite a lack of options in central midfield at present, his absence will not be keenly felt. He was often unavailable due to a succession of injuries and Rodwell started only 14 games last season, as his hamstrings restricted his influence. The fee received from Manchester City, which could rise as high as £17m, represents a very satisfactory transaction, especially when you take in to account how David Moyes has reinvested these funds.
Steven Pienaar has returned for a third spell on Merseyside, to reform his formidable partnership with Baines on the left flank. They are once again demonstrating a telepathic understanding, overlapping each other to great effect and providing quality service for Belgian international Kevin Mirallas, a £6m signing from Olympiakos.
Mirallas has made an encouraging start to the season, netting three times in four games thus far, sharing the burden of Nikica Jelavic, who scored 11 goals in 13 starts last season. Victor Anichebe has also impressed this term, with three goals already. He looks determined to finally fulfil his potential and add further strength in depth up front. Moyes has often claimed that the lack of a prolific striker has cost his side a European place. That assertion can now be put to the test.
Currently sat third in the table, Everton won their opening game of the season for the first time in five years, beating Manchester United 1-0 at Goodison Park. They followed this with a 3-1 victory at Aston Villa, to extend an unbeaten run of 11 games, stretching back to the end of last season. The subsequent 2-0 defeat at West Brom prevented Everton from recording their longest unbeaten spell since their title-winning campaign in 1984-85. They responded to this setback by thrashing Swansea 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium, in a performance that Moyes described as “fabulous.”
Everton have since been eliminated from the Capital One Cup after a defeat to Leeds, as Moyes’ quest for an elusive first trophy extends in to an 11th year. Everton host Southampton on Saturday, as they embark on a seemingly favourable run of games that includes a trip to Wigan and the visit of QPR either side of the international break. They will then lock horns with Liverpool, who currently reside amongst the relegation contenders.
After so many managerial departures and appointments in the summer, the lack of an approach for Moyes remains mystifying, but Everton fans will be delighted that his sterling work can continue. Fellaini may be advertising his wares and his eventual departure seems inevitable, but there is plenty of reason for cheer. “The last time we moved this quickly in the market we qualified for the Champions League,” Moyes noted when unveiling Steven Naismith early in the summer. A return does not look out of the question at present.
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